Pin Pricks and Pennies

by Anna Blanch on February 2, 2012

No matter how happy you are for the success or happiness of life milestones of others, and believe me, I am…I am happy and joyful for them..sometimes they still act like pin pricks, or knives, or red even hot pokers, reminding you of what you haven’t done, where you’re not at.

Let me be clear though, I’m not comparing apples and oranges here.

I’m well aware of my own choices and the consequences of those choices. I’m not yearning after something I’ve forgone nor am I regretting my path. I’m not wishing I stayed in my home town, or country, or wished I’d continued to wear a uniform or sought after clerkships with the intensity of a gale force wind.

I promise, I’m not trying to have my cake and eat theirs too…

It’s no secret that the last 12 months have seen challenges I didn’t expect the PhD would bring. And the days of feeling utterly exhausted or unwell haven’t helped. But all of that seems like excuses. It still stings a little when, as they are well and truly entitled and I want them to do, friends and colleagues celebrate the completion of their PhD drafts. I am excited for them, but it weighs upon me that I’m not where I wanted to be at this stage. (to put it in perspective, i’m only 2.5 years in….so i’m aware that my expectations are high).

I say all of this to be transparent. Even when I genuinely am excited for others, it doesn’t stop it being a huge motivator to be where I really want to be.

I have to say though, that I have much to be grateful for, and the kindness and encouragement of others has much to do with that. It’s the little things: like the lady who enquired if i needed some pennies to make up change for my bus fare (when i handed the driver a fiver), the friend who’s been checking on me via text message, or the colleague who made a point of asking whether i’m sleeping better in an email about a project we’re working on together. Then there was the incredibly thoughtful gift of a sweater sent by a friend’s mom – someone who has quite a knack for choosing things which suit me and finally, and possibly most importantly, there was the encouragement – via twitter of all places – from a wisened professor that much of what i was feeling in relation to this stage of my PhD is in fact normal – and that there is an ending to this beginning!

On days that the writing is difficult and the editing painful and the reading obscurant I remind myself I’m one day closer to being able to hold the final hard bound copy in one hand and -to mix metaphors relating to my ex-pat homes – a dram of texico’s finest in the other. On that note, I better get back to work on the chapter that I had planned to send my advisers last Friday.

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